Two young men did their club proud at the Manitoba Gymnastics Association’s Manitoba Open March 9.
Winnipeg Gymnastics Centre athletes Aaron Thomas and Ian Kielly both took first place in their respective divisions at the meet. Thomas, 11, competed in the Provincial Level One category, and Kielly, 22, competed in the National Open.
This is Thomas’ second competition and second first-place finish — and he’s only been training for two years.
"I was a bit nervous about going up against one of the other competitors, but other than that I was confident," Thomas said.
'I was a bit nervous about going up against one of the other competitors, but other than that I was confident,' -- Aaron Thomas
The River Heights resident’s favourite event is the rings.
"I just like swinging on them," said the Grade 6 student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education. "It’s fun."
He hopes to one day represent Canada at the Olympics, but for now his favourite thing about gymnastics is doing flips.
"On the floor and high bar something we do flips," Thomas said. "And on the rings."
In addition to gymnastics, Thomas enjoys basketball and football.
'It can be very physically demanding and challenging and really just flat out scary sometimes, but it’s also really rewarding in the sense that you are getting to do different skills that you’ve been working towards.' -- Ian Kielly
Kielly is further along in his training by a number of years. In addition to gymnastics, he balances two jobs and a full kinesiology course load from the University of Manitoba.
He surprised himself at provincials, doing well in events he didn’t expect to.
"So that was a nice surprise," Kielly said. "The flip-side was, at events that I usually do better on I had a couple of mistakes here and there."
Kielly grew up in Swift Current, Sask. He said he actually started gymnastics relatively late at the age of eight, and finds he is still catching up.
"I would have liked to start earlier," said Kielly, who now lives in Fort Rouge. "I’m still playing catch-up, trying to get that more senior level."
Kielly describes his relationship with gymnastics as a love-hate situation.
"It can be very physically demanding and challenging and really just flat out scary sometimes," Kielly said. "But it’s also really rewarding in the sense that you are getting to do different skills that you’ve been working towards."
Though Kielly trains with coach Murat Kanakaev almost every day, he knows something impressive would have to happen for him to get to the Olympics anytime soon.
"After some research, and seeing what goes into it, I’ve adjusted my goals to going senior and eventually competing internationally," Kielly said. "Because once you are at the international level, that’s when you can really work towards something like the Olympics."
Coming off this first-place win, Kielly will be heading to Calgary for the UCalgary International Cup March 23.
The Winnipeg Gymnastics Centre is located at 3-1249 Clarence Ave.